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Why Barbell front squat? [Article, Free download]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Feb 28, 2019 9:30:00 AM

Why barbell front squat?

Why barbell front squat?

The main reasons to front squat are variety and speed when compared to the back squat. Build some basic strength with the back squat first and mix one day of front squats in later. 

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What is your why 

Before we talk about the why to front squat let me ask you a couple of questions: 


  • Why do you want to get stronger 
  • Why do you want to put on muscle 
  • What happens if you do 
  • What happens if you don’t 


These questions are simple and important. They strike right at the heart of your long-term motivation. Many in fitness get hyped up and burn out quickly. Those who take proper care of these questions will follow their goals long term. Most people go about their goals in this fashion: 


  • What do I want 
  • How do I get it 
  • Why do I want it 


A lot of people seemingly know what they want. Fewer make proper plans for obtaining what they want. Almost none ask themselves why they want what they want. When you always go by what you want you will be a victim of your circumstances. Our immediate needs are highly influenced by our surroundings. Daily moods and encounters do the rest.  In this mode, it is easier to feel like you are getting nowhere. To improve your overall happiness and give life more meaning just flip the order of the question:


  • Why do you want something 
  • How will you get it 
  • What will you do to get it 


This way you tie your actions and thoughts closer to what is meaningful to you. In turn, you will stick to your goals and take the necessary actions. When life gets in your way you will be less likely to change course. 


If you want to know how this works on a psychological level read Daniel Kahneman's book thinking fast and slow. He also has a TED talk on the difference between the experiencing and remembering self. Simon Sinek makes a compelling case for changing your thought process telling the story of the Wright brothers.


If you want to change your thinking and focus more use the self journal. It helped me a lot to be more decisive and thin more positively about the world and myself. 


Front Squat 


The barbell front squat is a variation of the barbell back squat. It is very popular in the training of weightlifters as it simulates a big part of the clean and jerk movement. 


For the front squat, you place the barbell in the front instead of on your back. This usually provides less stability and therefore less weight is being lifted than with back squat. 


The front squat demands more flexibility in the wrists while it puts less strain on the lower back. Above that, it helps to build speed and is more quad heavy than the back squat. The lower back provides less force which is shifted to the legs. 


Most beginners do not like the front squat due to the setup. It also harder to start with is you need a good strength from the back squat to carryover. A 20 kg front squat is a lot harder than a 20kg back squat. 


To perform a front squat follow these straps:


  1. Set up the j cups at the right height. The bar should rest at a height that you can get under it and unrack it by popping your hips forward. 
  2. Load the bar symmetrically 
  3. Grip the bar with both hands. A narrower grip than for the back squat is recommend 
  4. Turn your elbows in
  5. Get under the bar and get your throat as close as possible to it 
  6. Unrack the bar 
  7. Walk three steps out 
  8. Adjust the fingers around the bar 
  9. Breathe out 
  10. Breathe in and brace 
  11. Squat down 
  12. Come back up 


Rinse and repeat for getting stronger. 


Biggest advantages of the front squat are its emphasis on faster acceleration out of the home and quads. This comes at the expense of higher risk for wrist injuries and less low back activation. 




Powerlifters often see good results by mixing in the front squat into their routines. It takes the strain of the lower back. In addition, you get a mental break. You can chase more personal records. 


The other upshot is that you can still train the front squat after a minor lower back injury. This is due to the fact that there is less torque in the movement. Always consult a doctor first in these scenarios. 




Weightlifters will train the front squat often and heavy. Apart from moving a lot of weight they also pursue speed of descending. The quicker you can get down to catch the bar the better in Olympic weightlifting.


This is why Olympic weightlifters who shift to powerlifting often need to do pauses squats. Their descent is too fast for very heavy big squats. The other way around powerlifters are often too slow for the fast Olympic lifts and need more speed work when they switch. 




You don’t see many Bodybuilders recommending the front squat. The quad stimulation can also be gotten from the leg press with less hassle. 


Still, the front squat can be a good addition to stimulate your legs in a different way and add some balance and flexibility to your upper body. 


Why barbell front squat


The main reasons are to have more options than just the back squat and speed. Carryover to the Olympic lifts is high. Remember that the front squat is generally harder than the back squat. Build some basic strength first. 


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Topics: Lift stronger, Squat, Fitness, Strength, Barbell